Tools for transitions : An inventory of approaches, methods and tools for stakeholder engagement in developing transition pathways to sustainable food systems

Koning, Susan de; Haas, Wim de; Roo, Nina de; Kraan, Marloes; Dijkshoorn-Dekker, Marijke


The global food system is facing big problems, such as global food security for a growing population, climate change and biodiversity conservation, which ask for transitions of the food system. To analyze or contribute to a food system transition it is important to explore possible ‘transition pathways’ towards more sustainable food systems. A ‘transition pathway’ is a narrative that describes how a new or adapted system may evolve out of a previous system. To create impact pathways need to be developed with the engagement of stakeholders. In this document, an overview is given of approaches, methods and tools which are relevant for stakeholder engagement in the development of transition pathways towards sustainable food systems. The report is intended for those who are involved in transition initiatives in a role as researcher, consultant of process facilitator. Approaches refer to the paradigms behind the way research is done. Methods are the strategies and processes that are utilized in – here - the development of transition pathways. Tools are the means that help to fulfil a task in a (research) project, for instance to collect, analyse or present information. The number of tools is endless. We distinguished several approaches: • Participatory research • Action research (e.g. multi-stakeholder partnerships) • Shared knowledge creation (e.g. community of practice) • Combinations of models and participation (e.g. transition support system approach) • Issue advocacy Next to that, we specifically describe the (different) role(s) of researchers in stakeholder involvement. Stakeholder involvement requires new skills of researchers. It helps if they have a broad experience and can understand several worlds. Approaches come to expression in the used methods. We distinguish: • Interactive scenario-building (e.g. participatory mapping) • Back-casting (e.g. socio-technical scenarios) • Participatory design (e.g. reflexive interactive design) • Participatory ‘research in process’ Within these methods, different tools for participant selection, evaluation and envisioning and forecasting can be used. For example: • Interest-power grid • SWOT-analysis • Food Systems Decision Support System • Rich picture • PIP-approach • Four Quadrants of Change • Map Table The choice of relevant methods and tools can be based on the following general principles: • Integral approach: Methods and tools need to support an integral approach • Inclusiveness and dialogue: Approaches, methods and tools should be inclusive and promote dialogue • Contextuality: Methods and tools should take cultural context into account • Long term orientation: Methods and tools should be aimed at the long-term • Focus on tangible actions: Methods and tools should facilitate concrete actions for change